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The bottles we carry

Paying attention to someone’s water bottle may just mean the world to them

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"Looking at a person’s water bottle can give insight into who they really are, and what certain things mean to them."

If there’s one thing someone will notice about people in Arizona, it’s what they have in their hands. Not their phone, not their keys: water bottles.

It’s a tool used not only to help them get through the day but also, to represent their identity and showcase who they are without ever saying a word. 

Water bottles often go unnoticed in a large crowd, because most people carry them like their phone or keys. But, a water bottle can be more than just a source of hydration. For Sabine Schatschneider, a freshman studying biological sciences, her water bottle is something that means a lot to her.

"It means a lot more to me, it’s one of my prized possessions," Schatschneider said.

The reason behind it is not the water bottle itself and what it does — but what’s on it: stickers.

"It’s a collection and a collage of things that are important to me and my life experiences and things I value," said Alexandra Park, a freshman studying biophysics. 

Looking at a person’s water bottle can give insight into who they are, what they like, and what they value. Park has a "consent is sexy" sticker, a phrase used often to highlight the importance of consensual sexual activity, especially for female participants. It symbolizes that sexual activity is safest when both parties consent to doing so. 

"I really believe in women’s rights, and this sticker just tells people what I believe in without me saying anything," Park said.

Stickers can also represent a person’s identity and core beliefs as well. For Schatschneider, her queer identity stickers are one way of letting people know who she is. She also has a sticker of the band Wilco and stickers that represent where she came from, Minnesota.

"Wilco is one of my favorite bands, and I got it at my first concert in Arizona," Schatschneider said.

"I'm from Minnesota, and I played hockey. Most people decorate their helmets with stickers, so I think it started there," Schatschneider said.

ASU students (from left to right) Katie Stuart, Sabine Schatschneider and Alex Park posing with their decorated water bottles in the Barrett Honors Hall and Barrett Dining Hall on the Tempe campus in November 2023. 

For Katie Stuart, a freshman studying biological sciences, her stickers focus more on places she’s been.

"The stickers are a little time capsule, looking back and seeing where I’ve been," Stuart said. "It’s a reminder of where I came from, and how many people I know that have drank out of this water bottle, who I was when I got it, and who I am now." 

Water bottles and their decorations are a piece of identity that may not be as notable as someone’s room decor or clothing, but they are still essential. Whether it be through stickers or the type of water bottle, they convey a piece of information about someone without them saying a word. 

"I’m still working on it. I’m hoping to continue adding more stickers and decorating basically until filled," Schatschneider said. 

It’s silly to think that something as trivial as a water bottle is something that is so much more than meets the eye. But next time you see someone’s water bottle, pay attention. It may just mean the world to them. 

Edited by Claire van Doren, Jasmine Kabiri and Shane Brennan

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